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Positional preview: Outfield

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Really, the only question is how will Joe Girardi keep everyone fresh?

MLB: Exhibition-Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Outfielders in the player pool

Jay Bruce, Kyle Garlick, Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley, Mikie Mahtook, Nick Martini, Andrew McCutchen, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams

The starters: McCutchen, Haseley/Quinn, Harper (and Bruce most times)

First things first: Harper is going to be a top three vote getting in MVP balloting this year. We don’t need to dwell on him.

The center field spot is going to be interesting in how Girardi manages it. The other day, Alex Carr wrote about the center field job that seemingly was wide open. His thoughts were that Haseley should be seeing the bulk of the time roaming the center expanse, with some Quinn sprinkled in against lefties. If/When Alec Bohm gets called up, Alex advocated for inserting Scott Kingery into the center field conversation, as well as other positions as a way to keep people fresh. I can’t say that I agree with this as I believe the best path forward for Kingery is through extended reps at one spot, his natural second base, but the fact is that Kingery is more than capable of handling center in a pinch.

Why I believe Haseley will see the bulk of time in center is that perhaps upper management might attempt to put their finger on the scale a bit in Haseley’s favor. If he gets more at bats and finds success, the much maligned player development section of the team can point to him and scream “THERE’S YOUR SUCCESS!” Having their first round pick of a few years finally pan out can only help to bolster the case of the player dev machine to keep churning as it has been of late. Plus, with the new rules that allows a runner to be placed on second in extra innings, Quinn’s value could be used then more often. Of course, he’d have to be inserted into the lineup for someone (you can’t just pick whatever baserunners you want to put there), but if his presence on the basepaths could help the team in a way, then starting him often would rob them of that, admittedly small, advantage.

Gazing into left field, it’s hard not to admit that the layoff due to Covid-19 hasn’t benefitted McCutchen most of all. Doubtful to begin the season with the team when baseball was being played in March, these few months off have allowed McCutchen to get back up to strength in his leg and resume his spot atop the lineup (and our hearts). Sure, he’ll be given some days as DH to help continue the healing process, but that is where Bruce comes in. He is more than capable of handling left field both offensively and defensively for a few days while also being the likely primary option as the DH himself. It’s a good piece of depth to have in this strange season.

The backups: Quinn/Haseley

This part is rather easy: whoever isn’t in center field on a given day becomes the top option to enter the game later on as a pinch runner or pinch hitter. Whether Girardi chooses to add another outfielder to his initial 30-man roster remains to be seen.

The depth: Garlick, Mahtook, Martini, Williams

This is your standard depth. These are the guys who likely would’ve been in Lehigh Valley had the season proceeded as normal, with all four capable of putting up decent numbers against minor league pitching. One thing to look for here is trades. The team will have to contend with a trade deadline this season and if they are still in it, there could be a match made using someone here. While their trade value isn’t going to be high (if it’s anything at all), there still could be a team looking to pick up, say, Williams for the remainder of the season and see what he can do.